Leonid Lerman
Playing with Fire: Terracottas

October 19 – December 8, 2012

Opening Reception Friday, October 19, 6-8pm

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The McKee Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of an exhibition of new terracottas by Leonid Lerman on Friday, October 19, 2012, 6-8 pm, continuing through Saturday, December 8.

Lerman, born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1953, educated at the Moukhina College of Art and Design in St. Petersburg, and charged by the Soviet government to produce monumental public sculptures, came to the United States in 1980. Due to his classical training in Russia, Lerman is proficient in many media—wood, bronze, metals, collage, charcoal, and clay—and he has used them all. Although he has made clay pieces over the years, this extensive body of work, exclusively terracotta, came from the discovery of the AZ Ainslie Studio in Brooklyn, New York, where he executed a large ceramic private commission in 2011-12.

There are 38 terracottas of various sizes in the exhibition. Most are painted. All are figurative, with references to previous forms and subjects Lerman has explored in the past in different media. Some are human figures, lying down, up on end, folded over, smoking, flying. Some are landscapes, abstract mounds with Italian hill towns on top. Others are forms that grow directly out of molding the clay, pushing it, poking it. There is always humor and lightness beside the serious contemplation of the frail human condition. As the immigrant he once was, Lerman has fused the intense Dostoevsky-like Russian temperament with the American freedom of means and expression to arrive at a new place where he can reveal the sometime poetic, mystic, self-deprecating attitudes in his art.

At the center of the exhibition is a large ceramic sculpture (8 ½ feet high) of a Raven, standing like Rodin’s Balzac, with a load on its back. The load is an undefined human figure. It is an image Lerman has made repeatedly. What that burden is may remain mysterious, but we all carry one, Lerman seems to say. It could be psychological, physical, familial, the weight of our past, but it is always a part of us and defines us, another aspect of our common humanity and Lerman’s personal history.

For images and more information please contact Karyn Behnke: karyn@mckeegallery.com

Siege 2012
terracotta and oil paint
18 ¾ x 11½ x 11½ inches
47.5 x 29 x 29 cm
The Blue Robe of Buddha 2012
terracotta, metal and wood
22½ x 16 x 16 inches
57 x 40.5 x 40.5 cm